It was a race that went according to plan for Derek Thorn on Saturday night at Irwindale Speedway (CA). The Bakersfield, California driver used a strategy that allowed him to be his best when it mattered most, capturing $25,000 in cold, hard cash during return of the All-Star Showdown for the Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series.
After starting from the pole and riding in third for 75 laps, Thorn charged back to the front following adjustments at the halfway break. After reclaiming the lead, the four-time SRL champion fended off and finally pulled away from Preston Peltier in the final 50 laps.
Pocketing $25,000 along with the Blue Flame Trophy, Thorn acknowledged that this would be a major victory that he will savor for quite some time.
“I’ll be smiling about this one for a long time. I can’t thank Byron and Carroll Campbell enough, Mike Keen, Vicky Keen, all the guys on this crew that make this possible. Everybody on this car that helps us get here. The guys at the Super Bowl say we’re going to Disney World. We’re going to Disneyland, we’re here, it’s on the way back, we’re going to Disneyland baby,” Thorn said after the race.
Thorn gave extra kudos to his crew chief Mike Keen for the adjustments made during the halfway break, which allowed him to break out from a battle with Peltier that lasted nearly 50 laps after the break.
“Mike deserves a lot of the credit. He always makes me look good. But, it’s a group effort on everybody’s part, but for sure he’s a big piece to this puzzle to make these things haul butt. To come here with a field like this, we’ve been snake bit a lot at these big shows, it’s slipped through our fingers so many times; those last 25 laps I was like, ‘Come on, baby.’ It’s awesome to be in victory lane.”
For Peltier, a chance to back up his recent Chilly Willy 150 win at Tucson Speedway (AZ) went away as the on-track battles took their toll on his No. 48.
“Second place isn’t what you really want. Derek got a little rough with me there on those restarts, and I don’t know if it bent something or if the stagger closed up. But, the car got real tight and there was nothing I could do with him,” Peltier stated.
In the late laps, the focus was on an intense battle for second between Peltier and Washington State star driver Tayler Riddle. While coming up short behind runner-up Peltier, Riddle found far more trouble in post-race inspection, when his No. 15 car was disqualified for a left-side weight distribution violation. Riddle declined comment after the DQ.
On the last lap, chaos ensued for what for what was fourth position at the time, with Austin Reed getting into the back of Jack Wood hard. Wood was able to wheel the No. 18 back around, taking third after the Riddle DQ and staying ahead of Dylan Lupton in fourth.
Early race leader Linny White fell to finish fifth after catching the outside wall on a restart. Behind him was Logan Bearden, Eric Schmidt, Carlos Vieira, and then Austin Reed who limped home in ninth, with Bobby Hodges completing the revised top ten.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51